Armchair BEA: A Question of Aesthetics

Posted May 12, 2016 by Lory in design, events / 22 Comments

ArmchairBEA-LogoExampleToday’s Armchair BEA topic is about aesthetics: what we think about the purely visual qualities of books, and also of our blogs. To what extent do looks matter to us? How do they affect our reading experience?

Although I can look past the drawbacks of an ugly or poorly designed book if the content is worthwhile, I am so much happier with a beautiful book package in my hands. I think it’s a fascinating challenge to match the visual and tactile qualities of physical books to the really quite different aural/literary experience of reading, and I so appreciate the work of designers, illustrators, and binders who do this important job. I’ve grown to value the convenience of e-books, too, but sometimes their lack of aesthetic quality grates on my nerves.

Pride and Prejudice Folio
Pride and Prejudice, Folio Society

I’ve written about some of my favorite “beautiful books” in these posts:


I’ve also had a lot of fun writing about good and bad cover art:


forest-words-pagesI find blog design to be if anything even more important than book design. There are blogs that I can’t follow or even look at because they are so cluttered, have too many clashing colors, or distract me with flashing things. Plain, unassuming blogs are fine, but I do really like to see a nice design that, as well as facilitating easy reading, also shows off something of the personality and style of the blog author. Here are some of my favorites:


It may be totally unfair, but when a blogger has a visual style that resonates with me, I’m more likely to pay attention to his or her words. I also started enjoying my own blog much more when I replaced my clunky self-made attempts with a custom design that I absolutely love.

This topic is endlessly fascinating to me, so I’d love to know your take on it. Please comment or share your own posts below!

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22 responses to “Armchair BEA: A Question of Aesthetics

  1. I love seeing clean and well-designed blogs, but at the same time, I’m usually too strapped for time/cash/etc. to put that level of effort into my own design. But looking at your picture of In the Forest of Words and Pages is pretty inspiring. 🙂

    • It can be a bit of an investment, but there are also decent free and low-cost themes available…

  2. I also love clean blogs! Simple is better. And I love your suggested list. I also linked to places where people can get great public domain graphics to use as a jumping off point.
    As regards e-books, I agree. I know that it is going to be a simpler version of a finished product but it makes me NUTS when the font / text is screwed up and difficult to read or the footnote system doesn’t work. I usually give up and ask for an ARC.

    • I hate trying to access footnotes in e-books, at least on my Kobo. Maybe Kindle is better at that?

  3. I’m all about text. I pay little attention to book covers or blog designs. I do love the blog header that a friend of mine made for me, with the cemetery gate and the hand coming up out of the earth with a “no” sign over it.

  4. I agree that beautiful books makes the reading experience even better! But I wouldn’t read a book (or not) based solely on the cover.
    I love the blog designs of the examples you’ve included. Mine is very basic and hasn’t changed since I started, but now I feel kind of attached to it. 🙂

    • I have handy book covers that I can use in case the cover art really turns my stomach. Much more bothersome: terrible typography (e.g. unreadable fonts, blurry type) or pervasive errors. Those can actually stop me from reading.

  5. I love pretty blogs and books (and the Folio Society editions are always beautiful), they tend to catch my eye first, but I’ve found that my innate love of words and language patterns will often trump anything else XD

    • I don’t quite understand the appeal for those who like them, but people are different!

  6. I agree on the cluttered – UGH! And I used Stephanie at New Chapter Designs for my blog design too…I know you used her. So sad she’s not doing that anymore.

    • I know, so sad. She could have made it her career but I guess she wanted to do something different.

  7. I too have a thing for over cluttered blogs! There seems to be so many! I’m sure I’ve passed up some very worth while bloggers due to poor aesthetics. But I have to be visually attracted to something to stick around as a follower. PS – yours is very cute!

  8. I can’t stand blogs that have dark backgrounds and light words or worse I saw a blog with a black background with red letters. Yeah. I couldn’t read a thing!

    Girl Who Reads

    • Huh? Does that person have night vision or something? Black on white may seem boring, but I still think it’s the best combo for reading.

  9. I love a nicely designed, original looking blog. Nothing is worse than visiting a blog with tons of pop-ups, lots of flashing, and sliders all over the place. I suffer from migraines, and those things really set them off. Plus, they’re annoying! Also, neon on black backgrounds are THE WORST!

    • It would be nice to have a migraine filter that could edit out such things. And neon on black just should not be allowed.

  10. “The Forest of Words and Pages” looks beautiful! Cannot wait to visit that site. I too like pretty sites. Visualization is important in blogging especially if you want to be taken seriously. Or that’s my thought. 🙂

    Thank you SO much for visiting Finding Wonderland, Lory. BTW, I love your design. It’s so cute and fun. 🙂